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The Ins And Outs Of Cavities: How Dentists Fill Cavities

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One of the most common restorative dental treatments is a dental filling. By filling a dental cavity, a dentist can protect a damaged tooth from marauding oral bacteria. If you spot what looks like a dental cavity in a tooth, don't waste time. Get to your dentist as soon as you can, as dental cavities usually worsen over time.

If you have never had a dental filling, then you might wonder how the treatment process works. The process to fill a dental cavity is a simple and short one, with a few steps.

The dentist numbs your mouth first

To begin with, your dentist will numb the gum tissue surrounding the soon-to-be filled tooth. This will ensure that you don't feel any discomfort as your dentist removes the decay from inside the cavity.

But if you don't like needles, don't worry. Most dentists will usually rub a numbing gel onto the gum tissue before they administer the anesthetic. And for some patients, the dentist may even administer laughing gas if the patient is especially nervous about the procedure.  

The dentist then removes the decay

Dental cavities form because oral bacteria eat away at tooth enamel. This leaves a hole within which bacteria can flourish as they further damage the tooth. That's why dentists need to drill away the decay, to ensure that they remove bacteria and damaged tooth structure.

They also remove some of the tooth structure to make room for the dental filling. Once the decay is removed, your dentist will then place the filling into the hole to seal the tooth and prevent bacteria from doing any further damage.

The dentist then places your chosen filling material

Before the procedure begins, you will choose a filling material. Although there are several options to choose from, the main two options are composite fillings and amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings are the most common filling type, as well as the cheapest. These fillings are strong and durable, and because of that, they are a good option for back teeth.

But if one of your front teeth has a cavity, then an amalgam filling is not the best approach to take. This is because amalgam fillings are metal and won't blend into your smile. A composite filling, on the other hand, will blend into your smile once in place.

After your filling is in place, you can then use your tooth as normal, but be sure to be gentle with your filling for the first few hours. This will give your filling time to bond to your tooth fully.